6 Steps To Turn WOE Into GLOW: There Is Hope For Desperate Skin!

Don’t give up: even the “worst” skin has hope!

We can’t tell you how many times we hear: “my skin is the worst,” or “I have the longest patch test list and can’t use anything!” You might feel like you have more allergens than any other person on the planet, or the most impossible skin problems, but it probably isn’t true. We’ve seen the longest patch test results and our doctors care for hospitalized cases: we see the worst skin cases, on a regular basis, and care for them. And even if your skin does fall into the most complex of categories, there is hope. Follow these 6 steps to begin your climb out of desperation…

1. Go to a dermatologist who specializes in your condition. 

Your doctor might be wonderful, but specialists — particularly those who regularly publish or lecture on your condition in particular — spend the most time studying and treating your problem. These hours of specialization matter. This concentrated study and experience means the deepest understanding of the condition, access to the latest research and treatments, and higher rates of success.

2. Get a patch test. 

This one, simple test can be a game changer. If you’ve had a long history of very sensitive skin, you may need an expanded patch test which can cost more up front but will save you LOTS (of money, injury, frustration, and time) compared to guessing which products to use.

3. Stop random trial and error. 

It is almost impossible to identify the exact culprit of a reaction on your own from just trial and error. The last product applied isn’t necessarily the cause of a reaction. In fact, we’ve seen several cases of people using products they were sensitive to for years without a major reaction (perhaps just dryness)…slowly getting skin to a “breaking point” where anything applied next (ironically enough, even something they’re actually NOT allergic to) can trigger a flare-up. Unless you’re a chemist and understand INCI names of cosmetic ingredients (and know cross reactants of allergens) and a contact dermatitis specialist who is updated on the medical literature on allergens, there’s just no way to win this game on your own.

4. Minimize. 

This means use products with the least amount of ingredients possible, with little to no known allergens or irritants, and use less products in general.

5. Stay positive.

It helps your skin — de-stressing has serious health benefits! Patience is required. One-pill-fixes-all-overnight is a myth even in relatively healthy skin. Jumping from doctor to doctor, and treatment to treatment, can backfire. Give your specialist and therapy a good, solid try by strictly complying with instructions (a top problem for doctors is patient compliance) for at least a few months before you consider trying something else.

6. Make sure your doctor does a thorough history. 

Everything is important. What you eat, what utensils you use when eating, what gear you use when working out or at the office, your hobbies, what you sleep on, your towels and clothing, what medications or vitamins you might be taking, your nutrition and exercise. Everything matters.

We’ve seen decades-long, steroid-dependent cases turn around from proper prevention alone. The solution to your skin woes could be far simpler than you think.

Need an informed ear? Ask us in the comments section below, contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com.
On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.
To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Healthy Living, Skin

Afraid Of Your Skin's Tantrums? Try These 3 Tips To Keep "Problem Skin" Happy & Healthy

Do you live in fear that any little thing — a “gentle” new moisturizer, a hotel pillow, your hair — could set off your skin? Some discipline and lots of love keep “problem skin” happy and healthy. Practiced diligently, and combined with with good nutrition and exercise (the building blocks of health), these three to-do’s can even enable problem skin to “glow” out of its “terrible tantrum” stage entirely.

1) Get Your Problem Skin’s Support System In Place

Like many multifactorial health concerns, successfully managing problem skin (very sensitive, allergic, or reactive skin, atopic skin, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, cystic acne, rosacea, skin cancer, etc.) requires juggling several things, and the right support system of specialists is important.
Your team of caregivers should consist of the following:

1. Dermatologist who is a specialist in your condition.

Many physicians provide excellent care but might specialize in aesthetic services or dermatologic surgery. Seeing a specialist in your problem skin’s exact condition increases your chances of success.
Not every dermatologist is an expert in contact dermatitis. We’ve had fragrance-allergic clients who were given products labeled “fragrance-free” by their doctors even though the products contained ingredients closely related to fragrance. Contact dermatitis specialists are more updated on allergens, cross reactions, ingredient names, and relationships between different chemicals and ingredients. Allergic skin specialists tend to take very detailed histories to factor in what you might be exposed to in foods, at work, in your hobbies, etc. and help you identify triggers you might otherwise miss. Prevention is one of the most powerful, effective, and safest tools at your disposal, and it’s within your control. For it to work for your problem skin, make sure that you know exactly what to avoid.
A specialist will also be able to order the right diagnostic tests such as a biopsy or patch test. The latter is helpful for several problem skin conditions as it helps you identify which particular substances you need to look out for in everything from cosmetics to clothing, electronic equipment, and more. To find a doctor near you who offers patch tests, visit contactderm.org or ask your country’s dermatological society.

2. Allergist, if you also have food allergies.

Food allergies and skin allergies are not the same (different cells are involved). But if you also have food, bronchial or other allergies (determined by a prick test, not a patch test), you need an allergist on your team.

3. Make sure your doctors “play well together.”

If you have other health concerns, it is a good idea to put your specialists in touch with each other so that they work as a team, seeing your skin as part of a whole. For example, your allergist may have prescribed you an inhaler that has steroids or is another drug that is known to cause allergic or photo-allergic reactions. This is key information for your dermatologist. If you are taking neurological drugs and cystic acne is a concern, your dermatologist may want to ask your physician for possible alternatives.

4. Nutritionist, Trainer, Health App.

This may seem like an odd addition but proper diet and exercise are so important at reducing inflammation (a big factor in many skin problems) that it needs to be a priority. A nutritionist or gym trainer can help you with food choices in addition to exercise and motivation, but there are loads of free health apps that you can use on your phone to explore healthy recipes, to use as a food diary, and even for guided workouts at home.

2) Avoid “Instant Gratification” (Steroids)

Steroids are serious drugs that, while necessary for emergency cases and quick relief, are not meant for long-term use. Sustained steroid application can result in thinning of the skin (which increases sensitivity and other problems), decreasing efficacy of the steroid (so you apply more of it, more frequently, which compounds the problem), severe rebounds when you’re finally taken off of them (which may require hospitalization), and, in some years-long cases, Cushing’s disease or even death. Yes, we’re talking “just” from topical steroid creams.

No matter how severe your skin condition seems, there’s a good chance it can be managed by an accurate diagnosis (this isn’t as easy as it sounds — dermatology has a staggering number of conditions), accurate identification of allergens, and consistent, conscientious allergen avoidance (which also can be difficult because allergens can be listed under names you’re not familiar with).

Try to avoid the “instant gratification” of a steroid by using alternatives like virgin coconut oil, monolaurin, or a steroid-free anti-inflammatory for milder reactions. and tell your team of specialists that one of your goals is to manage your problem skin without the (regular) need for steroids.

3) Be Disciplined About Avoiding Triggers.

Don’t be guided by claims of “natural” or “for sensitive skin”: be guided by your patch test results and be disciplined in your product selection. While it might be tempting to try new things with fabulous-sounding promises of safety, carefully study ingredients (and jewelry, clothing, electronics cases, etc.) for your particular allergens. It might be a challenge at first but this strictness is the most important foundation you can give your skin so it can “glow up” into self-maintaining health and calm.

Establish a strict sleep schedule: studies show that 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal. This not only goes a long way towards preventing inflammation (a major trigger of skin problems), but can mean profound changes in other aspects of your life, too, from increased efficiency to more peace and happiness.

Speaking of happiness, be disciplined about stress management: now, not some day. Like sleep deprivation, stress is closely linked to inflammation. And it’s not just mental or emotional stress: anything that stresses your skin or body (like allergens and junk food) count, too. Set “quiet time” each day to recenter. Keep a gratitude journal. Even a facial can have surprising de-stressing benefits! And see a professional (add her or him to your support system team) if you feel you need additional help.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

Featured, Skin

Skincare Is Healthcare, Not Vanity (But Yeah, That's A Pretty Great Side Perk)Featured

Arguably the worst thing you can do to your skin is treat it like a fashion accessory…

…something that you only care about when you want to look good.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and deserves to be cared for properly.

  • Your skin is crucial to your overall health: it protects you from infection, for example, and regulates your body temperature;
  • It can show signs of internal problems before more intrusive or expensive tests (like a blood exam or MRI);
  • It’s one of the most important ways we communicate with each other and the world; and,
  • Its health can impact how you feel about yourself (visible skin problems can lead to poor self esteem, bullying, and depression, for example).

To learn more about how important skin is, check out Skin: Far More Vital to Your Overall Health Than You May Think.
Stop treating skincare as a fun thing to experiment with. Learn the basics: keep your skin clean, help it stay hydrated, and protect it daily with sunscreen.
Get started with a regimen here, and follow our 30-Day Healthy Skin Challenge:

  1. Your Skin Needs Sleep
  2. Your Skin Needs You To Stop Stressing
  3. Get The Right Diagnosis
  4. Your Hair Care Can Help (Or Hurt!) Your Skin
  5. A Skincare Regimen Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All
  6. Treat Your Makeup Like Skincare
  7. Fix Your Skin With…Laundry Soap?
  8. Get A Patch Test Or Photo-Patch Test
  9. Choose Hypoallergenic Over Natural
  10. Keep Your Sunscreen Next To Your Toothpaste
  11. Less Is More In Skincare, Too!
  12. Junk Food Is Junk For Your Skin
  13. Your Skin Wants You To EAT Your Antioxidants
  14. Your Skin Wants You To Exercise Daily
  15. How To Choose The Right Toner
  16. Your Sweat Acne Could Be A Fungal Condition
  17. Like A Dental Cleaning For Your Face…The Facial
  18. Clear Your Acne, Rashes, Darkening & Dryness With…Toothpaste?
  19. Your Vitamins Or Meds Could Be Causing Your Skin Problems
  20. Wash Your Face Before Going To Bed
  21. Drink Lots Of Water
  22. Your Makeup Brushes Could Be Causing Your Acne or Sensitive Skin…Clean (& Choose!) Them CarefullyHow To Cleanse Your Skin? Think Goldilocks…Not Too Little, Not Too Much
  23. How To Choose The Right Moisturizer
  24. What Was Meant To Help You May Hurt You — Ease Up On The Topical Steroids
  25. Stubborn Skin Problems? You May Need An Investigative Dermatologist
  26. Don’t Touch Your Face
  27. Don’t Dismiss Dry Skin…It Could Be A Sign Of Another Problem
  28. Active Skin Treatments Are A Marathon, Not A Sprint
  29. Skincare Is Healthcare, Not Vanity